An interview with Patrick Rothfuss

Patrick Rothfuss, author, beard master and all round nice guy speaks with Fantasy Book Review about his charity Worldbuilders, the good works it has accomplished and how he would like to see the charity grow and develop in the future.

Check out the main Worldbuilders page

If you are unfamiliar with Patrick and his writing, then you are in for a treat, check out for more details and maybe grab yourself a copy of his acclaimed debut novel, The Name of the Wind - I believe it's now up to its 17th print. We have a review of it here.

Patrick, can you tell us a little about Worldbuilders?

Worldbuilders is a charity where geeks of all creeds and nations get together to make the world a better place. Authors, publishers, and fans donate books and games, then we use those books and games as incentives to get people to donate. For every $10 someone donates on our team page, their name is entered into the lottery for these cool items. There are also auctions for more specialty items, like art or jewellery.

The money we raise goes to Heifer International. They provide people with the education, tools, and training to make permanent sustainable changes in their own lives. Heifer has been doing good work for over 60 years, and they're really, really good at what they do.

How and when did you get started in Worldbuilders?

I started the charity by accident on my blog back in 2008. I was going to donate some money to Heifer International, and I thought I'd involve my readers so I could spread the word about my favourite charity. I offered to match the donations they made for a month, and offered a few prizes that could be put into a lottery.

I was hoping to raise maybe 5,000 bucks. But I underestimated how many people were reading my blog. Then other authors got involved, donating books of their own and spreading the word. By the end of the month we'd raised over $55,000. My matching donation left me completely broke.

What would you say is your greatest achievement in Worldbuilders to date?

It's kinda hard to pick.

We've raised over $3,000,000 in last couple years. That money is doing a lot of good. Kids have clean water to drink because of us. Families have sustainable income. Children have full bellies, better nutrition, and hope for a better future.

And I'm really proud of the community that's come together to support the project. All the authors who do stretch goals and the publishers who donate books.

But the truth is, I think our biggest achievement is that a lot of people who get involved with Worldbuilders have never made a charitable donation before in their lives. People write me saying things like, “I'm just a college student without much money, but I gave 20 bucks to Worldbuilders and I've never felt so good in my life.”

When that happens, I know I've made a convert for life. That person is a philanthropist. They know how good helping feels, and they'll do it the rest of their life…

Can you tell us about cool stuff you have going on this year?

Well, one of the big things is that I've put some unique things into the lottery myself. Most notably, people have the chance to win three personal favours from me. It's a gold ring with my name on it, and if you win one, you get the chance to ask me for anything, and I'll do my best to make it happen. I'll read your manuscript and give you critical feedback. I'll let you beta read book three.

I talk about it in some detail on this blog here.

We've got a lot of strange and wonderful items up in the lottery though. Rare books. Books I've never seen before. Books you simply can't *buy* because nobody's selling them. But we have copies up in the lottery.

We've got books up in our auctions too. Swords from the people who make stuff for Game of Thrones. Manuscripts. Games. You can check out the all the auctions here.

You mentioned something about stretch goals earlier?

Yeah. That's something we just started doing Last year. It's hard to get people's attention on the internet, so we've recruited cool authors and other members of the Geek Glitterati to come do strange things for us. Acts of Whimsy.

We've had an amazing turn out this year. We have authors reading mean reviews. Hank Green did an angry acoustic version of Shake it Off. Kevin Hearne got together with a dance troupe and did the choreography to Thriller. Neil Gaiman is going to be reading a story that's voted on by everyone who donates. Right now it's tied between Jabberwocky and Where the Wild things Are.

You can see all the stretch goals on our main page Including the ones that we haven't unlocked yet.

How would you like to see Worldbuilders proceed in the future?

I'd like to see us do more of the same, except bigger and better. I'd like to bring in other authors and geeks to help us spread the word.

Also, on the practical side, we've got plans to improve the website, as right now it's not doing the best job of showing off everything Worldbuilders has to offer. It's better than what we had last year, but we've already outgrown it.

So, what's on the calendar for Worldbuilders for 2015? Any sneak peeks on future fundraising auction/give-aways?

I'm thinking of giving away a different sort of ring next year. Rather than doing 3 gold rings that entitle people to Any Favour Ever. I'm thinking of making, like, 100 tin rings. That will allow people to ask for a stupid favour. I'll tweet you a picture of a sloth. I'll make fun of your profile picture on Facebook. I'll drunk dial your friend at 4:00 in the morning. That sort of thing.

My thought is, if we can have some fun while making the world a better place, all the better. And it seems like doing 100 stupid favours for people will be good for a laugh.
Patrick Rothfuss, December 2014

I want to thank Patrick for taking the time to speak with us at FBR about Worldbuilders, we wish him all the best in reaching his target. If you wish to contribute to the charity, every $10's you donate on the Heifer team page gives you the chance to win thousands of book and games in the Worldbuilders lottery.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community. And as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.
George Bernard Shaw

Interview by Fergus McCartan

Our Patrick Rothfuss reviews

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

David Gemmell Award for Fantasy Winner: 2012 (The Wise Man’s Fear)

The Name of the Wind and Wise Man’s Fear are the very finest examples of first-person storytelling. It’s comparable to sitting across from someone, in a comfy chair, before a log fire, listening to them recount one of the most intricate and fascinating stories you’ve ever heard. To quote Ursula Le Guin: “It is a rare and great pleasure to find a fantasist writing... with true music in the words”.


Read our review

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Okay, I didn't enjoy this as much as The Name of the Wind but that is just saying this is excellent while the other is sublime. But it does improve on re-read and this may just be because I'm a reader who does like the familiar and the second half of this book takes us out of this comfort zone and into a land far away where court politics hold sway. This is gone into into intricate detail. And then there's Kvothe training to be a warrior - still not sure what to make of this part. But Rothfuss is a writer that's always a pleasure to read. Can't wait for the third book, is it out yet? Or coming soon? Ask the author. Go on, I dare you.

Read our review

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

The University, a renowned bastion of knowledge, attracts the brightest minds to unravel the mysteries of enlightened sciences like artificing and alchemy. Yet deep below its bustling halls lies a complex and cavernous maze of abandoned rooms and ancient passageways - and in the heart of it all lives Auri. Formerly a student at the University, now Auri spends her days tending the world around her. She has learned that some mysteries are best left settled and safe. No longer fooled by the sharp rationality so treasured by the University, Auri sees beyond the surface of things, into subtle dangers and hidden names.

"The Slow Regard of Silent Things is joyous offering of literary excellence and a heart-breaking delving of loss, loneliness and the mysteries that are Auri."

Read our review

The Thing Beneath the Bed by Patrick Rothfuss

This is not a book for children. It looks like a children's book. It has pictures. It has a saccharine-sweet title. The main characters are a little girl and her teddy bear. But all of that is just protective coloration. The truth is, this is a book for adults with a dark sense of humor and an appreciation of old-school faerie tales. There are three separate endings to the book. Depending on where you stop, you are left with an entirely different story. One ending is sweet, another is horrible. The last one is the true ending, the one with teeth in it. The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle is a dark twist on the classic children's picture-book. I think of it as Calvin and Hobbes meets Coraline, with some Edward Gorey mixed in. Simply said: This is not a book for children.

"Though possibly not strictly a fantasy book, Patrick Rothfuss’s The Adventures of the Princess and Mr Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed is definitely worthy of comment here. Not only because Patrick Rothfuss is author of one of the better fantasy novels, but also because the book has … a … castle." Joshua S Hill, Fantasy Book Review

Read our review